The rhythmic pulse and percussive sounds of old-time clawhammer banjo have been ringing through the hills and valleys of America since the instrument was brought to these shores from Africa in our earliest colonial days. It has since become a uniquely American style, still current and exciting today, driving the beat along with fiddles, guitars, singers and dancers wherever people play traditional music.
The eight lessons on this video represent clawhammer instruction at its very best. Each segment, taught by a master of the instrument, has been chosen to give learning players new techniques, tunes and musical insights. The lessons start at a beginner level, but then progress through many of the complexities of the style, including hammer-ons, pull-offs, double thumbing, melodic licks and other techniques.
Bob Carlin: Basic technique and Shortenin’ Bread
Mike Seeger: African-American fretless style: Josh Thomas’s Roustabout
Cathy Fink: Double thumbing and moving up the fingerboard: Cumberland Mountain Bear Chase
David Holt: More double thumbing and variations on Cripple Creek
Kirk Sutphin (with Mike Seeger and Greg Hooven): Performance and discussion of the old-time tune John Brown’s Dream
Ralph Stanley: Shout Little Lulie and Little Birdie
Mark Johnson (with Emory Lester): “Clawgrass” rolls and melodic licks: Cherokee Shuffle
Frank Lee (with the Freight Hoppers): Sandy Boys